« PreviousContinue »
with especial attention to the marks of design which are in succession furnished by the objects of inquiry.' "—p. 3.
"It is when phenomena can be traced up to their determinate laws, or in other words (agreeably to what we have above maintained) to their physical causes, then, and then alone, it is, that we can ascend to the idea of a regulating moral cause, and deduce the conclusion of superintending volition and designing intelligence."-p. 116.
"It has been admirably observed by the distinguished physiologist just referred to, (Mayo,) As philosophy advances, the properties of matter are perpetually found to be fewer and simpler; which the creative wisdom so combines and directs, as to produce the most diversified, and, at first sight, opposite results.' The disclosure of such a principle alone seems to me to constitute the highest kind of proof of presiding and ordaining intelligence."-p. 142.
Now surely the highest kind of proof of presiding and ordaining intelligence is to be found, not in unconscious mechanism, but in that human mind, itself presiding and intelligent, which, having first acquired the very idea of design from its own disclosures, detects the manifestations of a kindred intelligence in all the wondrous worlds submitted to its contemplation. It is remarkable that our author, limiting Natural Theology to the discoveries of design in the Material Universe, yet finds it necessary to state, in his analysis of the process, that the first idea of design is derived from the mind itself. If, after his own definition, Natural Theology is Natural Philosophy, studied with especial attention to the marks of design, is not this admitting that you set out with the idea of design, that Design has already been discovered in a living Designer, in a mind which was not its own Creator, and which therefore, both designing and designed, proclaims the Spiritual Original from which it proceeded, with a force and conclusiveness which cannot belong to any argument derived from physical adaptations? It is only to minds already in possession of the idea of design that the Universe reveals design. It is not the Universe as it is in itself, but as it is viewed by us, by minds already filled with moral ideas, that discloses to us the God of Natural Theology. Natural Theology, when considered without a constant reference to the moral nature of Man, reveals to us a Deity whose only attribute is Power, and who is entirely unfitted to be an object of devotion, a source of guidance, light, or hope. The outward world contains no satisfactory or consistent revelation of the moral character of God. Mixed and conflicting are the depositions it makes concerning the benevolence of the mind from which it issued. The outward universe is overcast and clouded, as well as soft and sunny; a howling wilderness, as well as a type of
Heaven; the outward elements are pitiless and terrible, as well as gracious and glorious. There is no uniform testimony borne to the character of God by the Material Universe. External Nature does not reveal to us such a God as our souls require. We do not find there a moral government. It speaks of Law, but not of Providence. It reveals a Ruler, but not a Father. It is only when the Moral Nature reads the outward Creation by a light borrowed from within, that it discovers a harmony of moral adaptation as well as of physical law, a unity of educational purpose and design. It is only when we look out upon external Creation with a moral idea in our minds, that we perceive a harmony in the conflicting aspects of Nature as of Life, in the sunshine and in the cloud, in the storm and in the calm, as in the troubled and the peaceful thought, the sudden blightings of disappointment and the keen delight of unexpected joy; the blessedness of sympathy and the bitterness of bereaved or wounded affection-and the chain of concord which unites these warring elements is their educational influence, their power over the Soul, where alone we are to look for an explanation of the mysteries of God. There is no real harmony in the Universe but the moral harmony, the tendency of all things to educate man. And until this is discovered, there is no Natural Theology that meets the necessities of the case, that gives the heart a Friend, that gives the child a Father. Until this is discovered, there is in the outward Universe the harmony of adherence to physical Laws, but not the higher harmony of adherence to benevolent design. The Natural Theology that is deducible from Natural Philosophy alone would not connect us with God by a religious bond. It omits the moral element of Deity, and does not reveal to us the Fountain of perfection that is the want and worship of a good man's soul.
How strange is it that Natural Theologians have not universally seen that the only station for theologically contemplating the Universe, is from the centre of a good man's heart! Only when looking through the eyes of goodness can we behold in physical phenomena the traces of a moral God. Uniform Material Laws bear no moral character until they come to be considered in reference to the moral qualities of fidelity, obedience, constancy, which they are fitted to impress upon the observant and docile spirit of man. It is in their applications to moral purposes that physical facts become evidences of a spiritual God. A good man is the only object in the universe that reveals a good God; and a good man's mind, seeking its own perfection, seeking its God, alone has the power to dispose all other
objects, as well as itself, in harmony with that divine conception.
We e are aware that this is admitting that Natural Theology is not a matter of demonstration. If a man does not feel the force of the evidence, he cannot be convicted of any intellectual or logical imperfection. It is simply a fact that most men are so constituted as to be impressed by its force. All that moral science, when considered in reference to Natural Theology, can effect, is to open an argument of overwhelming power to those whom it impresses; to those who feel the rudiments of perfection in their own nature, and are conscious that this cannot be attributed to themselves, that there must be a higher mind from whom it was derived. All that physical science, when considered in reference to Natural Theology, can effect, is to show that we are placed under the government of a God of order and of law, in whom is no variableness or shadow of turning. This it is which, in connexion with the indications of physical contrivance and design, our author has so admirably accomplished; and when viewed in relation to the moral nature of man, there is no sublimer aspect of God, no evidences more important than this splendid contribution of Natural Philosophy to the sources of Natural Theology. Natural Philosophy proves that we do not live under a fickle God; that the Being who is over us has no caprices of the will; that no lesson gathered from the past is ever contradicted by the future; and that the trusts of experience are never deceived. In this respect Physical Science has done its duty towards Natural Theology, more perfectly than Moral Science. Enthusiasts driven by Science from the natural world, are still able to take refuge in the unexplored parts of Moral Causation. Moral Science has yet to banish from its department all ideas of chance or interference-to deprive Superstition of its wilful changeable God-to exhibit Him in his action within the soul, as in the world, as a God of inviolable order and law. This is the greatest contribution that Moral Science can render to Theology. It will cut away the roots of false religion. It will restore to God the pure worship of the Reason, and destroy the idolatry of the Imagination and the Passions. It is from this quarter alone that purification and exaltation can be derived to the world of religious ideas. There is no greater desideratum than a work bearing the title of "Moral Science considered in its relations to Theology,' as ably executed as the Inductive Philosophy considered as subservient to Theology,' or ' The application of physical to divine truth.'
We regret that the work is not of a kind which renders it easy to analyse its contents, and present to the reader a summary of its argument. Its plan is greatly better than its execution. The several portions of the work, though closely connected, have the appearance of being written at different times, as if they had not grown out of the author's mind by a consecutive developement. We fear that the views will hardly take root in minds not already, by direction and habits of thought, made quick for their reception. The work contains the materials for a whole, and yet is not one. The separate parts are very valuable; but, unfortunately, clumsily united.
We shall perhaps convey a general idea of the work most successfully by giving the author's own recapitulation; and then, by exhibiting the connexion of its parts, from the conclusion downwards, present a view of the scientific arrangement of the argument.
"It has been our object to show that the order and dependence of fixed laws, and general principles, constitutes our notion of physical cause and effect. And it is from the arrangement and symmetry of these principles or causes, that we ascend to the great source of order and harmony: from the facts of physical causation to the Infinite moral cause, ordaining and animating the entire system of them.
"Physical science is the necessary foundation of Natural Theology: certain of the truths it discloses are warnings against mistaking the purport of Scripture; and the right use of the caution thus inculcated applies widely in the interpretation of Revelation. Inductive philosophy is subservient both to natural and revealed religion. The investigation of God's works is an essential introduction to the right reception of his word.
"The conclusions of Natural Theology are limited in extent, but demonstrative in proof: they are most important in themselves; and indispensable in the foundations of any evidence of revelation. Its truths elevate science into faith, while its deficiencies evince the necessity for further illumination: it tends to inculcate humility, and to excite inquiry and where it shows the path of reason to be closed, it points to the brighter opening of inspiration."
Analytically, the author commenced from Revelation; from thence descended to Natural Religion, which Revelation presupposes, and on which it proceeds; then passed downwards to physical facts, as the foundation of Natural Religion, the evidences of Order, Beauty, Wisdom, Power; and finally descended to the evidences of physical truths themselves, to the Method of reasoning which ascertains and makes sure the basis on which the superstructure of religious inference is built. Synthetically, this order is of course reversed; the work begins with examining the reasoning that ascertains physical truths; contem
plates the kind of truths, the Laws, the general facts which that reasoning establishes; rises from these facts to the inference of Design, Purpose, Order, Presiding Mind; and then closes with the application of all this independent knowledge to the interpretation of Revelation; the necessity of keeping them independent, that the one may be a basis for the other, the latter resting on the former and adding to it, and, by a consequent necessity, not interfering with what it has independently established.
The work, accordingly, naturally distributes itself into four sections::
I. The nature of the reasoning employed in the discovery of physical Truths, which are represented as the foundation facts of Natural Theology. II. The nature of the Truths thus discovered: the study of physical Causes and Effects considered as leading to higher and higher generalizations. III. The Relation of Physical Science to Natural Theology; or the Argument from Physical to Moral Causation; from Design to Intelligence. IV. The Relation of Physical Science and of Natural Theology to Revelation.
The first section is chiefly occupied with an examination of the meaning and nature of Induction, which the author rather loosely describes in the following passage, the close of which exhibits, we think, a curious deficiency of logical acuteness in a mind so philosophical.
"At the present day, so common is the use of the term 'Inductive philosophy,' that it may be presumed there are few persons who have not at least some apprehension of the sort of investigation which it is used to designate.
"In its more general signification, this term is employed to describe the entire method of modern physical science, as peculiarly characterized by resting on the appeal to experiment and observation alone; and as contradistinguished from the scholastic systems, which proposed to reason downwards from abstract principles to natural laws and phenomena : the inductive, on the contrary, ascends from observed phenomena to general laws and abstract principles.
"In its more limited sense, however, induction' is understood to signify the process of inferring and collecting general results, general facts, or laws,' from a number of particular instances, carefully established on actual experimental evidence. It is the nature of the process thus designated, and the principles on which it is conducted, that we propose to explain and comment upon.
"Now it is clear, that the first step in such a process must be the collection and classification of a number of particular phenomena: the careful examination of a number of particular cases, in order to discover some common property or circumstance in which they all agree, amid many others in which they differ.